The Bismarck Forestry Division will begin a citywide search for the overwintering and breeding habitat of the elm bark beetle as soon as conditions become conducive to search firewood piles. This effort is critical in the battle to save Bismarck’s elm trees from devastating losses to Dutch elm disease, according to Doug Wiles, the city's forester.
The insulating effect of a firewood pile allows many insects to survive in a frigid environment. Elm bark beetles use elm wood with tightly attached bark for protection from the extreme fluctuations of temperature that can kill many insects. By eliminating elm wood before spring, the overwintering beetles are destroyed and prevented from emerging in the steadily warming temperatures.
“We attribute our success in fighting to save Bismarck’s elm trees to three main factors. Diligent inspections in the summer to identify diseased trees, quick removal of diseased trees from the urban forest once they are identified as a positive host for the fungus that causes Dutch elm disease and eliminating the overwintering and breeding habitat of elm bark beetles by enforcing the required debarking or disposal of dead elm wood and stumps,” Wiles said.
City arborists will begin combing the city, looking for firewood piles that might contain elm wood. If elm wood is found, it will be marked with orange paint to aid the homeowner in the identification process. Wood owners will be asked to debark, burn or dispose of the overwintering elm wood habitat within 10 days of notification. A notice describing the elm bark beetle lifecycle and how they use elm wood as a breeding and over wintering habitat will be left at the property where the elm wood is found. The notice also describes how to identify elm wood from other common firewood types found in North Dakota.
For more information visit www.bismarcknd.gov/forestry.